Foam rolling as a form of self-myofascial release (SMR) is thought to improve muscular function, performance, overuse, and joint range of motion (ROM); until recently there has been little published with evidence to support those claims. Macdonald et al (2013) demonstrated that an acute bout of foam rolling improved range of motion by as much as 8°.1
The Deep Muscle Stimulator (DMS) is a tool that is used by chiropractors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers to treat musculoskeletal conditions. “The DMS uses percussion, mechanical vibrations that reach deep into the muscle tissue to stimulate proprioceptive functions.”2 Draper (2005) states current “indications for its use include scar tissue, muscle spasms, muscle soreness, acute and chronic pain, and trigger points.”3 To date there has not been any empirical data that demonstrates how the DMS affects ROM.
This present study aims to compare SMR with a foam roller to a treatment with a DMS to compare average range of motion post intervention using the protocol used by Macdonald et al, 2013.
Ten healthy active subjects (3 males, 7 females) were recruited on a volunteer basis to participate in the study. Subjects ranged in height and weight and in their training experience. They were randomly assigned to the SMR group and the DMS group. Subjects’ right knee joint ROM were measured before, 2 minutes, and 10 minutes after 2, 1 minute trials of SMR with a foam roller and a DMS treatment. The trial consisted of 1 minute on, 1 minute off, and 1 minute on.
The subjects who were assigned to the SMR group were instructed to roll on the foam roller along the quadriceps of their right leg from the hip to the top of the knee and then back up. The subjects who were assigned to the DMS group were instructed to sit with there right knee fully extended as a provider ran the DMS along the same pattern as used with the foam roller.
Range of motion was measured by having the patient kneel in a lunge position with the right knee on the ground. Then they were instructed to lean as far forward, stretching their right hip to the point of discomfort. After the patient was properly positioned, the patient’s right knee was flexed to patient tolerance and a measurement was taken from the lateral malleoli to the lateral femoral condyle to the femoroacetabular joint. The change in the angle at the knee was the ROM measurement recorded as the new ROM.
After SMR subjects’ ROM increased on average 2.4° and 2.8° at 2 and 10 minutes respectively. After DMS subjects’ ROM increased on average 4.4° and 7.2° at 2 and 10 minutes respectively. Based on the average results, at 2 minutes the DMS group experienced an increase of ROM 1.83 times greater than those in the SMR group, and a 2.57 times increase at 10 minutes.
One of the variables that could have influenced this study is that measurements were taken at end-range based on subject tolerance. Some subjects could have a higher pain tolerance, or be more familiar with stretching at end-rage. Also, the points of the measurements could have differed slightly from subject to subject based on the accuracy of measurements.
Foam rolling as a form of SMR has become a popular and common approach to tissue health. Previous studies have found it to increase range of motion1,5 which led to the present study. Other research has demonstrated the effectiveness of foam rolling; such as improving power, agility, strength and speed,4 that consistent foam rolling is beneficial, both objectively and subjectively, for increasing ROM immediately post activity,5 to substantially decrease muscle tenderness in a fatigued muscle by a moderate to large amounts for days after,6 in attenuating muscle soreness, and to improve performance in vertical height jump and muscle activation,7 and to significantly decrease immediate post-exercise soreness.8 It has also been discussed that the reduced feeling of fatigue could allow for extended training times which could lead to long-term performance enhancements.8
The present study indicates that an acute bout of treatment with a DMS produced 2.57 times more ROM at 10 minutes post treatment than SMR. Considering the above reported advantages, further research should be done to see if a similar increase can be seen when a DMS is used.
It has also been shown that reduction of ROM, including pre-season, increased the risk of injury of an athlete.9,10 Increasing ROM not only helps to prevent injuries but is also an effective outcome measure for rehabilitation and could possibly delay or decrease reoccurrence rates of injury. In the field of rehabilitation, restoring full range of motion is one of the primary goals of most rehabilitation programs. Based on this goal, this study suggests that the usage of a DMS could enable a quicker progression to functional exercises and a faster return to full function. By using the DMS in the clinical setting and foam rolling as part of an “at-home rehab program,” the results gained in a treatment visit could potentially be sustained longer and progress can be increased. More studies are needed to confirm this.
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- MacDonald et al. (2013). AN ACUTE BOUT OF SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE INCREASES RANGE OF MOTION WITHOUT A SUBSEQUENT DECREASE IN MUSCLE ACTIVATION OR FORCE. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(3), 812-821.
- D-m-s.com. (2016). D-m-s.com. Retrieved 2 March, 2016, from http://d-m-s.com/product-info/
- Draper, D.O. (2005). The Deep Muscle Stimulator’s Effects on Tissue Stiffness in Trigger-Point Therapy. Athletic Therapy Today, 10(6), 52-53.
- Peacock et al. (2014). An Acute Bout of Self-Myofascial Release in the Form of Foam Rolling Improves Performance Testing. International Journal of Exercise Science, 7(3),202-211.
- Bushell, J.E, Dawson, S.M & Webster, M.M.(2015). Clinical Relevance of Foam Rolling on Hip Extension Angle in a Functional Lunge Position. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(9), 2397-403.
- Pearcey et al. (2015). Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1), 5-13.
- Macdonald et al. (2014). Foam Rolling as a Recovery Tool after an Intense Bout of Physical Activity. MEDICINE AND SCIENCE IN SPORTS AND EXERCISE , January(1), 131-142.
- Healey et al. (2014). The Effects of Myofascial Release With Foam Rolling on Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(1), 61-68.
- Verrall et al. (2005). Hip joint range of motion reduction in sports-related chronic groin injury diagnosed as pubic bone stress injury. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 8(1), 77-84.
- Bradley, P.S & Portas, M.D. (2007). THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PRESEASON RANGE OF MOTION AND MUSCLE STRAIN INJURY IN ELITE SOCCER PLAYERS. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(4).